Davien Kuinlan sets L.I. rushing record as Plainedge wins Nassau III title
History was made at 3:15 in the afternoon Saturday on the turf at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium. It was made quietly, without fanfare and, in fact, without the knowledge of the participants.
When Plainedge's Davien Kuinlan powered his way for 18 yards around right end, neither he nor his coaches nor his offensive linemen were aware that he had just produced the greatest single-game rushing performance in Long Island history.
"No idea. I didn't realize it,'' Kuinlan said of his astounding 484-yard, seven-touchdown performance that carried Plainedge to the Nassau III championship with a 56-34 victory over Glen Cove. "The Long Island championship is what's on our minds. We have been a part of so many losses.''
In improving to 11-0, Plainedge finally captured an elusive county title after losing in the championship game the previous four years. The Red Devils will face the winner of Sunday's Sayville-East Islip game for the Long Island Class III title at 4 p.m. next Sunday at Stony Brook's LaValle Stadium. Glen Cove finished 8-3.
"We want next week. That's what we worked for," Plainedge coach Rob Shaver said.
Kuinlan said his offensive linemates did the bulk of the work. "I just have to run. They work much harder than I do. I come to practice 10 minutes before it starts and they're still in the weight room,'' said Kuinlan, who carried 39 times in erasing the mark held by North Babylon's Jason Gwaltney, who gained 467 yards on 43 carries against East Islip in 2003.
Kuinlan accounted for all but one of the eight Plainedge touchdowns. Nicholas Checchia scored the other on a 65-yard burst up the gut on a quarterback keeper early in the second quarter. All those TDs allowed kicker Dylan Burns to extend his PAT streak to 63 in a row and raise his career total to 152.
Kuinlan had two historic runs. With 8:50 remaining in the third quarter, he broke tackles and lunged forward for 14 yards to reach 398, one more than the Nassau record of 397 set by South Side's Bryant Daniels in a 2001 playoff game. That record was announced to the crowd. "I wasn't really listening, and I fumbled on the next play,'' Kuinlan said with a rueful laugh.
There was 3:07 left in the fourth quarter when Kuinlan made his 18-yard ramble to the record. No announcement was made. "He's super-humble. He'll never say a word about it,'' Shaver said.
Yardage came in bits and pieces as well as huge chunks for Kuinlan and others. He scored on runs of 9, 72 and 31 yards in the first quarter and the Big Red's Tim Hogan (183 yards, nine carries) countered with TD gallops of 65 and 80 yards in the opening period.
Kuinlan had 376 yards and six TDs by halftime, including scoring runs of 57 and 51 yards as Plainedge built a 49-20 lead. But Glen Cove crept to within 49-34 on David Bull's 45-yard bolt with 5:11 left in the third.
At that point, victory was paramount and any record was secondary. But having Kuinlan run with the ball gives Plainedge its best chance to win, so he rushed 12 yards for an insurance TD a minute into the fourth quarter.
"It's what we expect from him. We just do our jobs,'' tackle Tyler Wiegmann said. "It's nice that his humbleness paid off.''
Said another of Kuinlan's blocking entourage, Walter Kowalczyk: "Every yard is a battle, but he makes it easier for us.''
Other interior linemen who shared Kuinlan's glory Saturday were Mike Johnson, Nicholas Moir, Brian Jockers, Steve McCartney, Anthony Persico and Joe Faranello. Said Kuinlan, "Every one of them blocked their hearts out for me.''